Movies & TV / Columns

The Top 20 Buddy Movies: Bad Boys, Shawshank Redemption, More

June 20, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Bad Boys 1995

More time at home has allowed me to see a few more movies and the majority of them have been the “buddy” type. When I was originally putting this list together I was just listing off a bunch of movies that I enjoy watching that touch on the theme of friendship. 

Then I remembered that the majority of you need something more, like a list, to debate and argue over. Hence the Top 20 list. Before you scroll down to complain…this isn’t an indication of the movie’s overall quality. This is how it handles the friendship between the characters. 

From 20 to 11 I’m just throwing out a quote from the movie and the Top 10 will have some thoughts from me. While the list rankings are subjective, my Top 5 is pretty set in stone. 

OK, now you can scroll. 

20. Step-Brothers
Brennan Huff: Did we just become best friends?Dale Doback: Yep!

19. Dumb and Dumber
“Just when I think you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself.” – Harry

18. Superbad
“Gangstaaaaaaaaaaasss… what’s up guys?” -Fogell aka McLovin

17. Some Like It Hot
Jerry: Have I got things to tell you!
Joe: What happened?
Jerry: I’m engaged.
Joe: Congratulations. Who’s the lucky girl?
Jerry: I am!

16. I Love You, Man
Peter Klaven: I love you, man.
Sydney Fife: I love you, too, bud.
Peter Klaven: I love you, dude.
Sydney Fife: I love you, Bro Montana.
Peter Klaven : I love you, holmes.
Sydney Fife: I love you, Broseph Goebbels.
Peter Klaven: I love you, muchacha.
Sydney Fife: I love you, Tycho Brohe.

15. 48 Hours
Reggie: This ain’t no g*d damn way to start a partnership.
Jack: Now, get this! We ain’t partners. We ain’t brothers. And we ain’t friends. I’m puttin’ you down and keepin’ you down until Ganz is locked up or dead. And if Ganz gets away, you’re gonna be sorry YOU ever MET me!
Reggie: I’m already sorry.

14. Artists and Models
Abigail ‘Abby’ Parker: You told him to kiss me?Rick Todd: Lady, if I’d known he was going to kiss you, I wouldn’t have sent a boy to do a man’s job.
Abigail ‘Abby’ Parker: [slap] That’s for the man. You can tell him the job’s filled.

13. The Defiant Ones
Sheriff Max Muller: They’ll kill each other in five miles.

12. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
Harold: We’re so high right now!Kumar: We’re not low!

11. Lethal Weapon
Roger Murtaugh : Hey, Riggs.
Martin Riggs : Yo!
Roger Murtaugh : Riggs, if you think I’m gonna eat the world’s lousiest Christmas turkey by myself, you’re crazy.
Martin Riggs : Well, I got news for you, Rog: I’m not crazy.
Roger Murtaugh : I know.
Martin Riggs : Well, good. Let’s eat.

10. Wayne’s World
From SNL skit to surprisingly great movie, the story Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar who host a public-access television show, ‘Wayne’s World’, from Wayne’s parents’ basement is built on their friendship and mutual love of rock and roll. 

9. Sideways
Two middle-aged friends taking a wine tour before one gets married. Charming and funny, Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church bring a realistic portrayal of the ups and downs of being a friend. 

8. Rush Hour
Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker as mismatched police officers who become friends has rarely been done better or funnier. 

7. Bad Boys
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s detectives Mike Lowery and Marcus Burnett in Bad Boys capture what this list is looking for. Smith said it best in an interview: “Because it’s really about friendship, and about the reality of what it’s like when somebody’s life takes a different turn. You’re ready to go one way and your partner’s ready to go in another direction. There are some really powerful scenes about friendship and some of the funniest stuff you are ever gonna see.”

6. Grumpy Old Men
Two curmudgeonly neighbors who have been rivals for years end up becoming friends. Watching Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau bring the story to life is simply fun and a reminder that some bonds take longer journeys. As you’ll see, their chemistry is as natural as can be. 

5. Swingers
Swingers hits a lot of notes personally. Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn play guys a lot of us know. While the crux of the story is Favreau dealing with a painful breakup, it’s how his friends are there to support him in their own way while dealing with the twists and turns of Hollywood. Everyone here gives an effortless vibe reminding us that real friends are there for us at our lowest. 

4. The Odd Couple
I loved the television but the movie is such a classic and sets the groundwork for “friends who are opposites” in movies even today. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau (them again!) play two divorced men – neurotic neat-freak Felix Ungar and fun-loving slob Oscar Madison – who decide to live together. Heartfelt and funny, you really believe these two connect. 

3. Shawshank Redemption
If you haven’t seen this film, I implore you to rectify that immediately. At the heart of this story set in a prison is a story of friendship between two imprisoned men who bond over a number of things with hope being the last thing. a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are near perfect and when the credits roll, you can admit that you had tears running down your face. 

2. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
While this is the one that will be on just about every list, it has earned its place. Paul Newman. Robert Redford. Everything about them in this film feels real. Their friendship isn’t smooth but whose is? From how they act, and react, to each other and their circumstances comes from a mutual understanding. Many movies have tried to duplicate the energy and have failed. So is the legacy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

I heard years ago that Newman and Redford went in for a meeting together with studio execs. In the meeting they brought up the possibility of doing a sequel. It was mentioned that they had been killed in the end but one of the execs said, “But what if you both survived?” Newman and Redford looked at each other, grinned, stood up together, and left. I can’t confirm if that happened but I’m willing to believe it. 

1. Tombstone
There is no movie that is more purely about friendship, and done so well, than Tombstone. You’ll never convince me otherwise. 

Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer portray Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday respectively and launch themselves with reckless abandon in showcasing the type of bond that can only be captured on film. 

While opposites, they share a code to support one another. They’re honest with one another, as seen when Holliday tells Earp that he can’t beat Johnny Ringo in the upcoming gunfight. Knowing this, Doc feigns being sicker than he is, although he is dying, and gets to the gunfight first. The realization of what Doc has done for him is apparent on Wyatt’s face as he comes upon the aftermath of the duel. 

The final scene between them two is a masterful goodbye that doesn’t need tons of verbiage to explain what each means to the other. 

“Thanks for always being there Doc.”